Document Type

Supreme Court Commentaries

Publication Date



Asset Forfeiture, Right to Counsel, Sixth Amendment

Subject Category

Constitutional Law | Supreme Court of the United States


In recent years, the federal government has vastly increased its use of asset forfeiture, the seizure of property connected to illegal activities. As authorized under federal law, the government is also able to restrain assets prior to trial when the government belives those assets will ultimately be found to be forfeitable. This pretrial restraint potentially implicates the constitutionally guaranteed right to counsel for criminal defendants. In the upcoming Supreme Court case of Luis v. United States, the Court will address the question of whether a pretrial restraint of assets which are not traceable to any illegal activity is permissible when those assets are needed to hire defense counsel. In this Commentary, the Author argues that the right to counsel of one’s own choosing is not unlimited and that pretrial restraint is necessary to prevent criminals from profiting from their crimes.